Ingenious inventions attract the crowds

From wireless grain storage monitoring to fertilizer lump busters, the Inventor’s Showcase at Manitoba Ag Days is sure to have something of interest to everyone. And just about everyone visits this popular feature.

“We have 16 exhibitors in the Inventor’s Showcase this year,” says Jonothon Roskos, Manitoba Ag Days general manager. “It’s always a big draw for the show because visitors are excited to see these great new ideas that are typically formed at the farm gate.”

They include ideas like the XTend auger that was developed by a family-owned business, Rodono Industries, and which won the Inventor’s Showcase’s award in 2010. The extended auger replaces the lower swing-away on a conventional auger with a hydraulic system that allows the auger to extend under the trailer, making it simpler to access. Owner Jim Grose came up with the idea after trying to deliver grain with his Super-B trailer.

“The XTend auger makes it really simple to get under a trailer,” says Grose. “And as a farm-based business we were able to test the product and evaluate it on our own farm.”

It also meant Grose was able to discuss the product with other curious producers at Ag Days on a level they could easily relate to.

“It’s always difficult to get a new product on the market, but after being at Ag Days we were surprised by the interest and the publicity that we got,” says Grose. “The Inventor’s Showcase is a great program and it certainly did us a lot of good.”

Inventions are eligible for entry into the Inventor’s Showcase only if they have not been marketed in Manitoba in any form for more than two years prior to the show date and priority is given to inventors of actual products as opposed to dealers or distributors. Criteria for an invention include its practicality, ease of use, usefulness to the general farm population, its ability to meet an important need, and to adhere to and/or promote established safety guidelines.

Customer feedback

Curry Industries was the 2011 winner of the Inventor’s Showcase with its Grain Bag Zipper System, which seals both ends of outdoor grain bags up to 20 feet wide. The product actually came about thanks to feedback the company received from participants at a previous Ag Days show.

For about 30 years, the company had been selling a product called the Poly-Fastener, a reusable, easy-to-use channel and insert strip designed to hold together flexible materials such as silage, grain and compost bags.

“A few years ago, we received some valuable market intelligence from customers at Manitoba Ag Days who had used our Poly-Fastener System for bag sealing,” says Mike Curry, owner of Curry industries. “Although they really liked the system once the bags were sealed, we discovered many customers had difficulty with the installation process.”

The company was able to redesign and improve the Poly-Fastener System based on that customer feedback, which also led them to develop the Grain Bag Zipper in 2011 and another new product, the Sawhorse Zipper System, which will be seen in the Ag Days Best New Products Feature for 2013.

“It was not until we attended the Manitoba Ag Days we discovered new comments from a broader audience,” says Curry. “And that helped lead us to the Inventor’s Showcase award that I think recognized our innovative spirit and commitment to improving our products.”

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